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Recollections of 9/11 -- A personal memoir by Editor Kathy McIntyre

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(1993) New York's Twin Towers before 9/11 cast a familiar shadow on Manhattan. The beloved towers actually provided a navigational tool for business professionals and tourists alike. (1993) New York's Twin Towers before 9/11 cast a familiar shadow on Manhattan. The beloved towers actually provided a navigational tool for business professionals and tourists alike.

Kathy McIntyre owned and managed the Peachtree Accounting Support Center in Manhattan for ten years until 2000. With many of her clients' businesses being housed in the twin towers, Kathy's professional work took her into the World Trade Center on a daily basis up to just twelve months before the attack on the towers. Kathy's daughter, Nichole, continued to live in NYC while attending Parson's School of Design and living just blocks from the towers.

In 1991, due to some personal family tragedies, I left my native state of Colorado
with my four children and moved to New York.

I had been given an amazing business
opportunity that would allow me to
take care of my children as a young widow.
We landed in Mt. Kisco, New York, which
is about 30 miles north of New York City,
in Westchester County.


My new business required me to travel all
over the tri-state area of New York, New
Jersey and Connecticut, installing and
maintaining computerized accounting systems.
The large majority of my work took
me to Manhattan every day on the Metro
North commuter train. The majority of
that work took me to lower Manhattan,
into the financial district.


As a Coloradoan learning the ropes of
traveling around Manhattan, I was amazed
at how easily I could get lost. I would
change trains from the commuter train to a
subway at Grand Central and when I came
up from the subway, I had no idea of
which way to go. I never got lost in Colorado,
I always had my mountains. They
were west and from there you could always
figure out which way to travel. After a few
short weeks, I realized that the Twin Towers
were right on the west side of Manhattan.
The Towers quickly became my new
“mountains” in New York. If I could see
them, I had the security of knowing I
could easily figure out if I needed to travel
uptown or downtown.


I had several clients in the Towers. They
had the same hopes and dreams for their
business, to succeed, to live the American
dream, to make a better life for their children
and grandchildren. Some of them
were new immigrants to America who had
arrived in New York from places all over
the world. They were just like me, just like
you. They worked hard and they were
proud of their success.


In the year 2000, after my youngest daughter
Nichole graduated from high school, I
made the decision to come back home to
Colorado. I had helped 535 businesses in
the New York area to computerize their
accounting systems. I had made hundreds
of new friends and had experienced a lifetime
of opportunities.


All the things people dream of doing in
New York, I had done. I was at Times
Square on December 31, 1999, I saw the
Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue, I was at
the top of the Empire State Building lots
of times, I saw the Statue of Liberty, I attended
shows on Broadway, I attended the
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade several
times, I saw the Christmas trees at Rockefeller
Center year after year, I saw the
ticker tape parade after Desert Storm, I ate
at all the great restaurants, I saw every
event, and explored every corner of New
York City. I have the pictures to remember.
The days that I worked in the Towers
were some of my favorite days. I would
always joke that I could actually see
Colorado and the Rockies from the upper
floors. You almost could. The views
were just unbelievable, you could see
forever. And yes it was true; you could
feel the Towers sway on the uppermost
floors.


The evening of September 10, 2001, my
life was good. I had just recently arrived
back in Denver from Manhattan from
taking Nicky to school with Karl. I had
spent the evening watching the Broncos
play the Jets. During the game there was
a flurry of phone calls between my
daughter Nichole in Manhattan, my
brother Bill in California and myself.


Bill and I are die hard Bronco fans, but
Nichole was rooting for the Jets. We
were having so much fun, until Ed
McCaffrey broke his leg. That was sad
but I knew he would be okay in the long
run. We had something else to celebrate,
Yukiko, my son’s fiancée was
flying in from Japan on American Airlines.
September 10, 2001, before. I went to
sleep peacefully. My son Damon was in
Denver safe in his apartment with a
good job, doing what he went to college
for, with lots of good friends, living the
life of a twenty some college graduate.
My son Dustie just got back from the
airport with Yukiko, safe and sound,
good flight, both very much in love,
making plans for their future. My daughter
Melissa, a student in Boston at
Northeastern University, safe and sound
in her dorm room, having a great time in
college. My baby, Nichole, pursuing her
dreams in Manhattan at Parson School
of Design, a school she worked very
hard to get into. Before, the world was
safe and we were all living the American
dream.


September 11, 2001. Got up and was
getting ready for work. The phone kept
ringing and ringing. Who was calling? It
was my brother Bill from California. My
thought was, Bill; really, the Broncos are
going to be fine. Ed will be fine. I
have to go to work and I don’t want
to be late. Phone ringing and ringing
again. I answered sure now that
someone in the family must have an
emergency. He said, “Where is Nicky?
How close to the World Trade Center?
Tell me, please tell me!” I could not
think. Why? Why? Turn on the TV.


The North Tower is burning. Nicky is
right there, within blocks. No! Help me.
No! An airplane just hit the South
Tower. No! This isn’t real, this isn’t
really happening. How can both Towers
be burning. I have to make it stop. How
do I find Nicky? I hung up, I will call
Bill later. I woke Karl and Dustie and
Yukiko. I call Melissa, I call Damon.
We have to find Nicky. Somehow it
can’t be true. I have to watch, I have to
find Nicky.

Keep my friends all safe. Make it stop.
Dialing and dialing. All the circuits are busy,
busy, busy. The airports are all closed. How
do I find Nicky? Can I drive? Can I take a
train? Now, I have to find Nicky. Watching,
the Towers are burning, out of control. The
phone rings. Parsons School of Design has
allowed the students to call their parents
from the school phones. Nicky, I LOVE
YOU, I LOVE YOU! Please do what people
tell you to do. Please stay safe. I can’t
tell her what is really happening. She doesn’t
know. I know she doesn’t. She thinks
there were two accidents. She doesn’t understand.
She has to hang up, I want to keep
talking. I love you; please never forget that I
love you. I know that Nicky is alive. I have
to watch, I can’t take my eyes off the TV
screen.


The South Tower falls. I know the world
will never be the same. God please keep
Nicky safe, I am begging you now. I feel
sick. I can’t watch, but I can’t stop. I am
really sick. Dustie is quiet. This scares me
even more. Anyone who knows Dustie,
knows that he can make you laugh no matter
the situation. Dustie isn’t laughing. He
isn’t talking. This is bad. The North Tower
falls. I scream and I feel sick. Please God.
Please God. Please God. I call Nicky’s cell
phone. No phones are working. Now I am
helpless. There is nothing I can do but pray
and sit there numb and watch.


The phone keeps ringing. But it isn’t Nicky.
I don’t want to hear from anyone but Nicky.
I had her once, now I don’t know again.
This is worse. How many people are dead?
It has to be thousands. Now there are other
planes. I want to care. But I only want to see
Manhattan. I want to find Nicky.


Hours later, Nicky calls. She didn’t do what
she was told. She told me that she thought,
if Mom was here, what would she do? She
would get out of here. She left the building
and hit the street and kept walking north to
safety. Later that night she walked all the
way to Grand Central by herself. She got the
last train to Westchester and found her way
to our friend’s house. They got her fed and
put her into pajamas and she called me.
Then she cried. I realized that all day long,
Nicky had not cried. She had been brave in
the face of the most unspeakable horror that
any of us can imagine. People were dead
and dying all around her, but she had the
courage to survive.

The next morning Nicky told me that when
school would open again at Parson’s, she
would be there. She vowed that no one was
going to take away her dream. She never left
New York and is still there today. Nicky is
my hero. I don’t think I could do that. Everything
was so broken and so ruined. I went
back to New York about six weeks after the
attack. I could not grasp reality. When you
stand at Ground Zero it is impossible to
grasp where the Towers went. It isn’t easy to
describe. The damage went forever. For
blocks and blocks, all over lower Manhattan.
White dust everywhere. An insurmountable
task. Family members still standing
holding photos of their loved ones, holding
them up as the truck drivers pull away
from the site. Still holding onto hope.


After. It has been five years. I just went back
to Manhattan and went to Ground Zero. I
thank God every day that Nicky is alive. I
mourn the people I knew who perished on
September 11. I grieve that they did not get
to finish their lives, and were not allowed to              

see their dreams come true. I remember
the last time I saw the towers leaving Manhattan
over the Brooklyn Bridge in August
of 2001 right at sunset. My “mountains”
were gold, gleaming in the sun. I think of
them in heaven now, golden and alive.
I pray for all of us in America that we can
learn to love one another and respect one
another. Many heroes came forward on
September 11. We can all learn so much
from them. We are a great country. We
need to work together and help each
other.


“Ask not what your country can do for
you, but what you can do for your country.”
President Kennedy.
God Bless America.

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